When we were beginning to plan UAID, a friend down at Wayne State tipped me off about a school in Detroit specifically for teen moms and pregnant teens that used innovative educational strategies, including parenting classes, an on-site garden, and livestock. Its name: Catherine Ferguson Academy for Young Women (CFA). I had to check it out, so last spring I went down to volunteer for a day. The scope of the agricultural project, the partnership with Greening of Detroit, and the leadership I saw from the schools principal all convinced me that this was a place where real learning was taking place. Later, I had the opportunity to read a dissertation done on CFA. For more information about the school, check out this article. You can also listen to a student interview on CBC Windsor.
We had hoped to partner with Ferguson, but it's now on the Detroit Public Schools list of schools to be closed. Their vision fits closely with ours, given that they're using education and agriculture to break cycles of poverty and empower young women. CFA should eventually be re-located to join with another school for pregnant teens, but there has been no mention of intention to keep the agricultural component of the project.
If this is an issue that interests you, here are a few ways to get involved.
1. Write to Robert Bobb and ask him to visit the school, review the programs, and consider how to keep the school open or maintain current programs at a new site. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Watch for news about public hearings and attend them.
3. Volunteer at Ferguson. You can write to Dana Applebaum at email@example.com for more information.